Plum swimmers set for WPIALs
Shawn Haupt loves this time of the year.
The Plum swimming coach gets the opportunity to see his swimmers go after top times, medals and trips to states at the WPIAL Class AAA championships at Pitt's Trees Pool.
The Mustangs are well represented this year as 14 will compete Thursday and Friday in individual and relay events.
“It's a bigger group than we anticipated, especially after the reduction in (qualifying time standards),” Haupt said. “We are really happy to post so many individual qualifiers. They are excited and ready. They know they worked hard all year. Now it's time to see that hard work pay off.”
Heats in each event will run from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. both days.
The 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 free, 100 free and 200 free relay will be Thursday, with the 100 free, 500 free, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 400 free relay set for Day 2.
The top three finishers in each individual and relay event automatically qualify for the PIAA championships, set for March 15 to 18, at Bucknell University.
Also, those who finish in places four through eight will be on a provisional list with the chance to be selected for the state meet based on their WPIAL time.
Haupt said he hopes his Plum competitors can equal or better last year's top performances.
Senior Gabby LaBovick and sophomores Devan Taylor and Alex Smith were part of the 200 free relay that set a new school record and placed eighth overall.
Taylor bettered her school-record mark in the 100 breast and qualified for states.
LaBovick, Smith and Taylor also were a part of the ninth-place 400 free relay.
Seniors Nick Workman and Michael Schollaert and sophomore Justin Decheck swam on the boys 200 medley relay that took 10th.
Decheck challenged the top 10 in the 100 backstroke as he placed 11th overall.
Haupt expects school records to be challenged in several events, including Taylor trying to better her own record in the 100 breast (1:06.14).
Decheck is the highest-seeded Plum swimmer in any event. He is the fifth seed in the 100 free and also is seeded 12th in the 100 back.
“He's been swimming tired and sore the last couple of meets, but he still was swimming fast,” Haupt said. “It will be great to see what he can do when he's rested and feeling good.”
Decheck completed the rare feat of qualifying in every individual event.
“The breaststroke is his weakness, so it was great to see him get that to finish it off,” Haupt said.
Workman will swim two individual events: the 50 free and the 100 fly.
On the girls side, Taylor leads the individual seeded swimmers as she is seeded 10th in the 100 breast. She also is the 16th seed in the 200 IM.
Other female swimmers set to swim individually are LaBovick in the 200 free and 100 free and junior Sydney Workman in the 50 free.
Of the sixth Plum relays entered, the boys 200 medley relay is the highest seed at 14th. Haupt said the final relay lineups will be determined the day of the respective races.
Schollaert, Kyle Vickroy and Justin Rowe again will swim relays at WPIALs. Freshman Joey Decheck is a newcomer to WPIALs, and he also will swim in the relays.
Freshman Delanee White is the lone Plum girls qualifier who will compete individually at WPIALs for the first time. She will swim both the 200 IM and 100 back.
“She's swam at Pitt before and has been in big meets,” Haupt said. “She will be pumped for WPIALs and will feed off the atmosphere and excitement.”
Abigail Glasspool also is a first-time WPIAL competitor, and she will swim in a relay.
Senior Josh Cochran earned his 100 breast WPIAL cut (1:04.82) in the team's final meet at Franklin Regional and will swim at WPIALs for the first time.
Last year, he was on the Trees Pool deck as a boys relay alternate but didn't compete.
“Josh was around 1:12 to start the season, and his goal was to get to 1:07,” Haupt said. “We felt that would be an incredible swim. He just kept dropping time. It's great to see who works so hard just to get in.”
Jill Tishko had qualified for WPIALs in the 100 breast in Plum's second to last meet. However, because of an injury, Haupt said, she will be unable to compete at the championships.